Jennifer Bonjean Has a Winner as Bill Cosby’s Conviction Gets Overturned – Does This Bode Well for Vanguard?

Editor’s Note: There is a full copy of the Cosby decision available at Bill Cosby released from prison after Pa. Supreme Court overturns sexual assault conviction (inquirer.com). Since reading the full opinion, I have made some modifications to the original post. 

**********

As Jerry Reed wrote some fifty years ago, “When you’re hot, you’re hot…And when you’re not, you’re not”.

Right now, Keith Raniere and all his fanatic followers are hoping that Jennifer Bonjean stays hot – and gets Keith’s conviction overturned just like she did earlier today for Bill Cosby.

Jennifer Bonjean

Cosby – who is already relaxing at home and issuing proclamations regarding his innocence – had been convicted of drugging and sexually violating Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand.

He was serving a 3-to10 year sentence in a Pennsylvania state prison – and had just recently been denied parole.

See the source image
Bill Cosby

Cosby’s appeal was based on his claim that Bruce L. Castor, Jr., the former District Attorney for Montgomery County Pennsylvania, had promised Cosby that he would never be prosecuted for the alleged assault on Constand. That promise is what induced Cosby to testify in Constand’s civil suit against him.

It was Castor’s successor, Kevin Steele, who filed charges against Cosby just 12-days before the statute of limitations regarding the alleged crime would have expired.

Cosby’s appellate attorney, Jennifer Bonjean – who is also representing Keith Raniere in the appeal of his June 2019 conviction on seven criminal charges – had argued that Cosby should have never been tried, let alone convicted.

Keith Raniere’s appellate attorney, Jennifer Bonjean

“Mr. Cosby should never have been prosecuted for these offenses. District attorneys can’t change it up simply because of their political motivation”, Bonjean stated in an interview shortly after today’s decision was announced.

Although the decision to overturn Cosby’s decision was supported by six of the seven justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the decision as to whether Cosby could be tried again was almost evenly split – with four of the justices saying he could not and three of them saying he could.

In the majority opinion that was authored by Justice David Wecht, he described Cosby’s arrest and prosecution as “an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was forgone for almost a decade”.

Although justices said that overturning Cosby’s conviction and barring any further prosecution “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system”.

Cosby – who was once known as “America’s Dad” in conjunction with his portrayal of Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” – had argued from the outset that he could not be prosecuted by Steele because of Castor’s previous promise.

See the source image
Cliff Huxtable

Castor even appeared as a witness for Cosby in a pre-trial motion to dismiss the charges that Steele had brought against him.

During his all-day testimony, Castor referred to himself several times as “a sovereign” who had the authority to give immunity to anyone without the approval of a judge

**********

Mixed Reactions to Today’s Decision

Reaction to today’s decision was varied.

Some were very pleased with the outcome…:

– Phyllis Rashad, who starred as Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show”, posted on Instagram: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!

See the source image
Phyllis Rashad

Geraldo Rivera Tweeted: “Told you so on #BillCosby. He was convicted by a court so tainted by public opinion and social pressure that it allowed obviously prejudicial evidence and improper witnesses. He may be a bad guy, but in this case, he was railroaded by the mob.” 

Former NFL player Damien Woody posted on Twitter: “All the smoke should be pointed squarely at the prosecutor’s office in the #Cosby case for making that colossal error.” 

#MeToo attorney Lisa Banks stated in an interview: “Certainly the optics of this are terrible. But the message must be very clear and simple — that this was a mistake by prosecutors, a very unusual one and a technicality that is unlikely to happen again.”

*****

Others not so much:…

Amber Tamblyn, an actress and #MeToo activist, posted on Twitter: “I am furious to hear this news. I personally know women who this man drugged and raped while unconscious. Shame on the court and this decision.

Actress Rosanna Arquette posted on Twitter: “I know many young women and men who are so afraid to press charges against their rapist and retraumatize themselves I am heartbroken today to hear of the news of Cosby’s release. This is sickening. My heart is with my sister survivors. We have work to do.”

Stewart Ryan, who was one of the lead prosecutors during Cosby’s trial and who is now a criminal defense attorney in private practice, said in an interview: “When you look at what happened, the fact that a jury reached a conclusion after a trial where they heard evidence, there was nothing about the opinion today that detracted from that. I think that’s important for people like Andrea and other women who came forward.”

Actress Debra Messing posted on Twitter: “To every woman who was sexual assaulted by #BillCosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury. It’s horrifying.”

See the source image
Debra Messing 

**********

Is Keith Raniere Also Going to Be Freed?

So, what does all this mean for Keith Raniere?

Should he start giving away all the goods he has accumulated since he arrived at Tucson USP – and start packing up the few belongings he plans to take with him when he leaves?

Keith in a bubble

Will he be facing a re-trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) – or will he, like Bill Cosby, be set free and never prosecuted again?

Unfortunately for Keith, today’s decision in the Cosby case has zero applicability to his case.

Although Keith may have been promised immunity by Albany County D.A. David Soares, such a promise would have no bearing on his prosecution and conviction in the EDNY.

And even if Keith beats odds that are similar to those offered by the New York Lottery and gets his conviction overturned, there is little chance that the EDNY prosecutors will choose not to retry him.

So, while America’s Dad may be joyful with today’s outcome in his case, New York’s Narcissistic Sex Trafficker should find little comfort in that outcome.

Many courtroom observers had long ago predicted that Cosby’s conviction would likely get overturned for the very reasons that were cited in today’s majority opinion.

Thus, although Bonjean will undoubtedly cite today’s decision as another indication of her virtuosity as an appellate lawyer – and likely consider raising her already exorbitant fees – it was really not a big deal from a legal standpoint.

What the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said is that Cosby should never have been arrested and prosecuted – not that there were any legal errors in his trial.

That, of course, is not an argument that Bonjean included in her appellant brief on behalf of Keith.

And that is why there is absolutely no reason for Keith or his remaining followers to be feeling joyful tonight – and why those who were victimized by him and his slave-masters should not lose a minute of sleep out of concern that he’s going to walk free in their lifetime.

**********

Side note:

I haven’t read any comments about this yet, but it seems inevitable to me that Cosby will be suing Montgomery County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a boatload of money.

The 83-year-old Cosby had been imprisoned for almost two years.

Although it’s hard to put a value on that time, I would expect he will seek multiple millions.

And I expect he’ll either get a large pre-trial settlement or win a tidy sum via a trial.

And who says that crime doesn’t pay?


About the author

K.R. Claviger

30 Comments

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

  • For Bojangles, heck I could have won this appeal as a layperson. So, no, this doesn’t help Keith one bit. He’ll never leave his new gated community in Tucson.

  • Cosby wasn’t found innocent, he was released because the prosecution violated their agreement not to prosecute.

    Let’s say his conviction wasn’t overturned, that would mean prosecutors could routinely agree NOT to prosecute and then prosecute anyway with no consequences. No defense attorney would let any client enter into any agreement with any prosecutors. No one would testify in any trial.

    I understand people’s anger but at least he did some time and he doesn’t have long to live.

    PS. This doesn’t help Raniere at all.

    • From what I read, this case is not so simple as the prosecution violating an agreement.

      The former prosecutor said in a press conference that he wouldn’t prosecute Cosby. It’s an open question as to whether that was legally binding. Expert legal opinion is divided: the appeals court concluded it wasn’t binding. The next appeal in State Supreme Court concluded the opposite by a narrow majority.

      Apparently, defense lawyers know well that off-the-cuff promises like that aren’t legal guarantees. It’s like a defendant pleading guilty on the DA’s word that they’ll get a light sentence. The judge isn’t bound by that promise.

      • I think the primary issue that resulted in the reversal is that Cosby was induced to give up his Fifth Amendment rights in the civil lawsuit by the former’s DA’s promise that he would not prosecute him. Then, after Cosby testified in the civil lawsuit, the new DA used some of Cosby’s testimony to bring the charge that resulted in Cosby’s incarceration. All in all, a very unusual set of facts…

  • Cosby’s case is a good reminder of how the justice system is biased in favor of defendants. He got off on a narrow legal opinion that the lower appeals court dismissed. It barely squeaked by in the state Supreme Court. It’s the narrowest of disputed legal opinion yet results in Cosby being guaranteed he can NEVER be prosecuted. (Even though he admitted guilt in a civil case).

    Only the defense has the right to appeal. The prosecution can never appeal wrongful not guilty verdicts.

    This is undoubtedly for the best for democracy and people’s rights. We should all be cognizant though of how deeply overbalanced the American legal system is in favor of presumption of innocence and defendant’s rights.

      • Are you sure that’s not because prosecutions aren’t brought to court unless the evidence is overwhelming?

        Prosecutors face a steep hurdle in bringing criminal cases to trial. They have to prove their charges, beyond a reasonable doubt, to a full jury. If a single juror believes there is a reasonable doubt, the prosecution loses.

        The deck is stacked against the State. As it should be in a democracy. The Founding Fathers understood that it’s better to let many guilty people go free than convict a single innocent man.

        The 95% figure suggests to me that the government isn’t prosecuting lots of people on shaky evidence. I think that’s a good thing.

        • I agree AS. That is the case with every single prosecutor that I know.

          People forget how often criminal cases are NOT charged or brought to trial. There will be a momentary public outcry, but then the memory fades.

          Yes.\, there are problems in the justice system. Inequity between the poor and wealthy tops the list for me.

          But neither vanguard nor Cosby the prolific rapist were wanting for money.

        • Mostly the high conviction rates are because people plead guilty. And they do so because they are already incarcerated and that’s how they get released.

          Allow more cash-free bail and you’ll see fewer convictions.

    • —Cosby’s case is a good reminder of how the justice system is biased in favor of defendants.

      That’s patently false. Prosecutors now load up the charges to get people to plea-bargain.

      ****
      Sausage, do you live in the Hamptons?

      Did you ever write a book with Woody Harrelson? Mmh

  • K.R. Claviger-

    Thanks so much for framing the complex legal issues in an intelligible way with your signature style. 😉

    *****
    Re Allison Mack 3 Year Sentence:

    Preface:
    I took the time to go around the web and read the comments of legal pundits and the public; the majority consensus appears to be that Allison Mack’s sentence was grossly lenient.

    My personal opinion was 2 years to 5 years max. I believe anything over 5 years was unwarranted.

    Conclusion:
    So my question to you is do you believe “it” will be fair to the victims of NXIVM that
    Nancy Sazlman, undoubtedly, will be receiving a prison sentence of less than 3 years?

    • As I mentioned in a recent post, Nancy may not get a more lenient sentence than Allison because, insofar as I know, Nancy never did anything to help the prosecutors convict Raniere. I’m sure her lawyers will argue that her health should be a major factor in determining how long a sentence she gets – and it’s possible that Judge Garaufis will do just that.

      I happen to be personally aware of some of the havoc and pain that Nancy caused several people – and in my opinion, she should get a longer sentence than Clare. Without Nancy’s help and commitment, Keith could never have pulled off the NXIVM/ESP scam for as long as he did.

      So, to answer your question, I do not think NXIVM/ESP victims should feel OK unless Nancy gets at least a 5-year sentence.

      • Thanks for your feedback! I feel the same way as you.

        Based on the sentencing of Raniere and Bronfman, I was shocked, when the judge handed Mack a 3-year sentence, regardless of Mack’s mea culpa. I guess contrition goes a long way with this judge.

        Thanks again for replying!

      • In agreement, let’s be real. Nancy Salzman was the oldest adult leader in NXIVM. She was also a “THERAPIST”
        She gave Keith Raniere the credit he needed to be The Vanguard.

        Without Nancy Salzman, Raniere could have never pulled off NXIVM

        She was the mind behind the first 16-day training. It’s all NLP and she was the Master Trainer of Master Trainers of NLP

        Salzman was also a hypnotherapist and could put an entire room under her spell and taught the great and powerful OZ that skill

        It was Nancy Salzman who trained all the women to keep all the other women who were in Raniere’s sex stable in line, including her own daughter Lauren Salzman.

        It was also Nancy Salzman who worked the Bronfman girls over until they were both willing to open their checkbooks to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars believing it was the ethical humanitarian thing to do for their Vanguard.

        So many Cult Sins lay at the feet of Nancy Salzman. She cannot REALLY blame Raniere for her actions like some of the others who were arrested. She was older, had a wealth of life experience under he belt, and an educational background that should have picked up on SCAM ARTIST AND PSYCHOPATH.

        Not Nancy Salzman, she liked the attention of a room full of people calling her PREFECT, kissing her ass, cleaning her house, washing her car, picking up her dry cleaning, and telling her how wonderful she was while she beat the holy hell out of them emotionally.

        The Judge should not go lightly on her regardless of her health condition. If Nancy can sit on her ass at home doing her EMs making more money now than she did while she was in NXIVM, she can go to a prison that can deal with her medical conditions and do her time like the other criminals in the US have done.

        She should get more time than Clare because of what she did to Clare and how she helped Keith

  • Cosby was blindsided by a prosecutor, and it only cost him millions of dollars, his reputation (such as it was) and two years in prison to correct the high-handed work of the prosecutor’s office. In fact, when 40% of felons in prison are black, as opposed to the 12-13% of the population who are black, it is easy to see that this has happened time after time. Prosecutors pile on charge after charge, and usually secure a plea deal which sends some young man to prison during the prime college or trade-learning years of his life. He has to plead guilty or else face a draconian length of sentence. Also, watch the news and see all the poor (and I mean ‘without money’) blacks who serve ten, twenty, thirty years for crimes they did not commit.

    Prosecutors are out of control, especially when it comes to convicting black males.

    But I think Cosby is guilty of crimes, and he should be tried and punished. If prosecutors can’t convict a guy with so many victims willing to come forward, shame on the entire system.

    • Ammo Alamo,

      —In fact, when 40% of felons in prison are black, as opposed to the 12-13% of the population who are black, it is easy to see that this has happened time after time.

      I 100% agree, your facts are correct!

      I beg, you to look at the socioeconomic facts as well!

      “2014 dollars, incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration, which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.”

      “Not only are the median incomes of incarcerated people prior to incarceration lower than non-incarcerated people, but incarcerated people are dramatically concentrated at the lowest ends of the national income distribution.”

      Here is the website:
      https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/income.html
      \\\\\\\

      Unquestionably, there is racism, but I believe the vast majority of the imprisonments are caused by socioeconomic factors.

      It is the socioeconomic disparity that causes the disparity between black and white people prison populations.

      When income levels are factored in instead of race, poor whites and poor blacks are shot at the same rate.

      Fixing the economic disparity is where efforts should be focused.

      I greatly would appreciate a response; I’m very interested in learning your opinion of my perspective.

  • “The Cosby Show” sucked and Bill was never funny in my opinion.

    He may be “America’s Dad” to some, but to me he’ll always be America’s Diddler.

    • Capt Moonbeam-

      My younger brother attended Eagle Hill prep-school, the same years, one of Bill Cosby’s daughters attended. Cosby’s daughter at the time was oversexed and acted out, both signs of psychological trauma and abuse.

      I believed it was just rumor, however in hindsight, I believe she suffered abuse.

      Once Cosby dies and his children receive their inheritance, I believe the public will learn what an evil man Cosby was….

  • The disappointment when Raniere loses his appeal will now be even greater for the leftovers and Keith himself.

  • Black privilege.
    Keith Raniere will not have that privilege because he is white.
    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

    • Moneyed privilege. His appeal would never have been heard without lots of money pushing it forward. Few Americans of any color could afford to pay Cosby’s legal fees. There was no black-white issue, and you reveal some underlying personal issue by claiming a racial bias here.

    • Consider finding another venue for your White Nationalist garbage. Telegraph, maybe. It doesn’t belong here.

  • Good analysis.

    I came to the same conclusions, especially on having no bearing on Raniere’s case. Does make it seem she knows what she is doing but I don’t think it alters previous appeal analysis. She has little to work with on Raniere’s case and it shows.

    I hate it, but I have to agree with Bonjean and the decision of the Court. The Cosby case deserved to be overturned. The State violated its immunity agreement with Cosby. The word of the government, especially in the justice system, matters. Yeah, we don’t trust them and they do some shady shit – but once they commit to a decision, they must honor it. They attempted to use a new DA to wiggle out of that decision and now two years later that failed.

    Does give an indication of a timetable though. It means circa 2023 Raniere will be getting some good news or bad news.

    • I’m not so sure that Raniere’s appeal will get resolved as quickly as Cosby’s did. To begin with, Raniere’s case is in Federal court – which is generally slower moving on appeals. Then, there’s the fact that multiple issues were raised in Raniere’s appeal whereas Cosby’s appeal was laser-focused on the one issue.

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He was credited in the Starz docuseries, 'Seduced,' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato has appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

Got A Tip?

If you have a tip for Frank Report, send it here.
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083

Archives